Naledzani Sikhwari became the first female bishop of the ELCSA. Photo: MK Promotions.
While growing up in a family that does not go to church, Naledzani Sikhwari never thought that she would one day become the first female bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA) in the southern parts of Africa.
Back in the days when attending Sunday School was compulsory at schools, Sikhwari was forced to attend to avoid getting a beating at school. She hails from Khalavha village in the Nzhelele area.
On Sunday, 23 May, she was ordained as the ninth bishop of the ELCSA, during a function held at the Ngoako Ramatlhodi sports centre in Seshego. Her inauguration followed the death of bishop Nditsheni Edwin Khodoga, who passed away last year on 11 April after a long illness.
The 55-year-old newly inaugurated bishop said she had been involved in church activities since she had been young. “I was involved in the youth group and also in leadership positions,” she said. To her, leadership is not an interest but a calling.
“I received training at the University of Natal/Pietermaritzburg, the current UKZN. After that, I was ordained and served at the Carlsruhe and Kgapane parishes and then became the first female dean. As dean I served a full two terms and, during my third term, I was elected into the position of bishop of the northern diocese,” she added. This makes her the first female bishop in the ELCSA in southern Africa.
Bishop Sikhwari encouraged women to stop looking down on themselves. “I would like women to see themselves as equal to men according to God's creation. So, women should not underestimate themselves. Their gifts are as important as the gifts in men, but again, women should support women leaders,” she said.
Date:30 May 2021 - By: Maanda Bele
Maanda Bele, born and raised in Nzhelele Siloam, studied journalism at the Tshwane University of Technology.
He is passionate about current news and international affairs.
He worked as part of the Zoutnet team as an intern in 2017.
He is currently a freelance journalist specialising in news from the Vhembe district.